How SEO can prevent your website from killing the planet | blue matrix | Open the microphone

Sustainability and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are two words you wouldn’t expect to see in the same sentence. It doesn’t seem to get cut down every time you use the Google search engine or visit a web page; But websites lead to carbon emissions. Internet use and its supporting technologies are responsible for approximately 4% of global emissions. This may not seem like a huge number, but it actually equates to emissions from air travel.

The Internet consumes a lot of electricity. According to the Carbon Calculator website, the Internet consumes 416.2 TWh of data per year. To give you some perspective, this is more than the entire UK uses. From data centers to mobile devices, they all consume electricity, which results in carbon emissions. The average tested web page produces 1.76 grams of carbon dioxide per page view. For a website with 10,000 pageviews per month, this results in 211 kg of carbon dioxide per year. With over 1.7 billion websites, digital content is being published at an exponential rate.

Today’s websites have a plethora of bells and whistles, from auto-playing videos to animations. If you don’t like these features, you are not alone. Not only is it annoying, but it also slows down websites and increases carbon emissions. The faster the website, the better its carbon footprint. Each SEO best practice contributes to reducing your carbon footprint in a small way.

What actions can you take to reduce the carbon footprint of your website? Rob Murgatroyd, Chief SEO at Blue Array, discusses some of the improvements you can make to your website that will make a big difference in CO2 grams per page.

1.) Understand your current emissions

It’s important to know what needs fixing before you start making changes. Many companies see nothing in their digital marketing practices that pollutes the world. As an SEO, I’ve come to realize that a lot of technical SEO practices actually help reduce the effects of climate change. Much of our focus is on reducing the size of websites, increasing load time efficiency, and reducing unnecessary redirects. These areas help reduce stress on servers and ultimately reduce the amount of power that websites require.

To understand your site’s current performance, you can use tools like the Lighthouse Chrome extension, which provides a breakdown of some of the major technical issues on your site that may be slowing down load times. The tool I particularly like is called a beacon. It calculates the environmental impact of a web page, shows you details of which page elements use the most energy, and tells you what actions can be taken to improve your emissions.

2.) Make your website load faster

After you get a clearer idea of ​​which elements of your site are causing slow loading times, your next step should be to follow our best practice guidelines to improve your site’s performance. Every site is different, but site speed improvements should always be a major consideration for technical SEO, which is also a key focus of sustainable SEO practice. Here are some easy actions to help increase the speed of your website:

• Use web-safe fonts, rather than custom fonts. Some font files can be up to 300KB in size.

• Include a caching solution on your site. Caching temporarily stores a duplicate of the original website content on the user’s device and significantly reduces server power usage while improving page load times.

• Consider using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). AMPs are lightweight website pages designed to give mobile users a super-fast experience that is easy to understand. This technology speeds up the loading of mobile content by removing unnecessary code.

3.) Optimize the multimedia content of your website

Over the past few years, trends in website design and functionality have moved towards more widespread use of HD images, videos, and animations. While this sounds great from a design perspective, from a user’s point of view and in the eyes of search engines, this is not necessarily a positive trend. The more elements on the page in the site (for example, many large images, many videos and animations), the more data it takes to load.

In the end, smaller sites are faster. Compressing images and reducing file sizes on your site can help greatly. It is recommended to use lossy compression when compressing images, which is equivalent to a significant reduction in size, but with little loss in image quality. Reducing the amount of video on your site can also help, as well as ensuring that video autoplay settings are disabled as well.

At Blue Array, highlighting your site’s current environmental impacts, and making detailed technical recommendations on how to improve it, is part of the standard site audit process. If you want to take a positive step towards the climate and want to know how many carbon emissions are generated by hosting your site, feel free to do so Contact us here.

Image credit: Pexels – Sanni Sahil

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